A Mixed Method Investigation of the Impact of Practicum Experience on Mathematics Female Pre-Service Teachers’ Sense of Preparedness
The practicum experience is a critical component of any initial teacher education (ITE) course. As well as providing a near authentic setting for pre-service teachers (PSTs) to practice in, it also plays a key role in shaping their perceptions and sense of preparedness. Nevertheless, merely including a practicum period as a compulsory part of ITE may not in itself be enough to induce feelings of preparedness and efficacy; the quality of the classroom experience must also be considered. Drawing on findings of a larger study of secondary and intermediate level mathematics PSTs’ sense of preparedness to teach, this paper examines the influence of the practicum experience in particular. The study sample comprised female mathematics PSTs who had almost completed their teaching methods course in their fourth year of ITE across 16 teacher education programs in Saudi Arabia. The impact of the practicum experience on PSTs’ sense of preparedness was investigated via a mixed-methods approach combining a survey (N = 105) and in-depth interviews with survey volunteers (N = 16). Statistical analysis in SPSS was used to explore the quantitative data, and thematic analysis was applied to the qualitative interviews data. The results revealed that the PSTs perceived the practicum experience to have played a dominant role in shaping their feelings of preparedness and efficacy. However, despite the generally positive influence of practicum, the PSTs also reported numerous challenges that lessened their feelings of preparedness. These challenges were often related to the classroom environment and the school culture. For example, about half of the PSTs indicated that the practicum schools did not have the resources available or the support necessary to help them learn the work of teaching. In particular, the PSTs expressed concerns about translating the theoretical knowledge learned at the university into practice in authentic classrooms. These challenges engendered PSTs feeling less prepared and suggest that more support from both the university and the school is needed to help PSTs develop a stronger sense of preparedness. The area in which PSTs felt least prepared was that of classroom and behavior management, although the results also indicated that PSTs only felt a moderate level of general teaching efficacy and were less confident about how to support students as learners. Again, feelings of lower efficacy were related to the dissonance between the theory presented at university and real-world classroom practice. In order to close this gap between theory and practice, PSTs expressed the wish to have more time in the practicum, and more accountability for support from school-based mentors. In highlighting the challenges of the practicum in shaping PSTs’ sense of preparedness and efficacy, the study argues that better communication between the ITE providers and the practicum schools is necessary in order to maximize the benefit of the practicum experience.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3607723Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 572
 D. D. Agyei, Preparation of pre-service teachers in Ghana to integrate information and communication technology in teaching mathematics. Enschede, the Netherlands: University of Twente, 2012.
 A. Alaqail, Education policy and system in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Alroshed Library Press, 2005.
 A. Alghamdi, “Challenges and constraints encountered by Saudi pre-service science teachers: A critical perspective,” Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Gulf Perspectives, vol. 12, no.1, pp. 1–20, 2015.
 J. M. Allen, and S. E. Wright, “Integrating theory and practice in the pre-service teacher education practicum,” Teachers and Teaching, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 136–151, 2014.
 K. Alsharif, Towards quality teacher education: Productive pedagogies as framework for Saudi pre-service teachers¢ training in mathematics education. Bentley, Western Australia: Curtin University, 2011.
 D. Alzaydi, “Activity theory as a lens to explore participant perspectives of the administrative and academic activity systems in a university–school partnership in initial teacher education in Saudi Arabia,” Unpublished.
 G. Anthony, and R. Kane, with B. Bell, P. Butler, R. Davey, S. Fontaine, M. Haigh, S. Lovett, R. Mansell, K. Naidoo, K. Ord, B. Prestidge, S. Sandretto, C. Stephens, Making a difference: The role of initial teacher education and induction in the preparation of secondary teachers. Wellington, New Zealand: Teaching and Learning Research Initiative, 2008.
 Y. C. Aydin, and A. Woolfolk Hoy, “What predicts student teacher self-efficacy?,” Academic Exchange Quarterly, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 123–127, 2005.
 D. L. Ball, and F. M. Forzani, “The work of teaching and the challenge for teacher education,” Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 60, no. 5, p. 14, 2009.
 A. Bandura, “Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change,” Psychological Review, vol. 84, no. 2, pp. 191–215, 1977.
 A. Bandura, Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: Freeman, 1997.
 C. Beck, and C. Kosnik, “Associate teachers in pre-service education: Clarifying and enhancing their role,” Journal of Education for Teaching, vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 207–224, 2000.
 I. Biza, E. Nardi, and G. Joel, “Balancing classroom management with mathematical learning: Using practice-based task design in mathematics teacher education,” Mathematics Teacher Education and Development, vol.17, no. 2, pp. 182–198, 2015.
 S. Boni, “An exploration of pre-service teachers’ perceptions of self-efficacy,” Unpublished.
 A. L. Brown, J. Lee, and D. Collins, “Does student teaching matter? Investigating preservice teachers’ sense of efficacy and preparedness,” Teaching Education, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 77 – 93, 2015
 N. Cabaroğlu, “Prospective EFL teachers’ perceptions of classroom management and misbehaviour,” Çukurova University Faculty of Education Journal, vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 117–132, 2012.
 S. Caires, L. Almeida, and D. Vieira, “Becoming a teacher: Student teachers’ experiences and perceptions about teaching practice,” European Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 35, no. 2, pp. 163–178, 2012.
 M. P. Campbell, and R. Elliott, “Designing approximations of practice and conceptualising responsive and practice-focused secondary mathematics teacher education,” Mathematics Teacher Education and Development, vol. 17, no. 2, pp.146–164, 2015.
 S. C. Cantrell, J. F. Almasi, J. C. Carter, and M. Rintamaa, “Reading intervention in middle and high schools: Implementation fidelity, teacher efficacy, and student achievement,” Reading Psychology, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 26–58, 2013.
 H. Carter, The impact of student teaching on preservice teachers’ teaching self efficacy beliefs. Arizona, U.S.: Northern Arizona University, 2006.
 S. K. Clark, A comparative analysis of elementary education preservice and novice teachers’ perceptions of preparedness and teacher efficacy. Logan, Utah: Utah State University, All Graduate Theses and Dissertations, 427, 2009.
 S. K. Clark, D. Byrnes, and R. R. Sudweeks, “A comparative examination of student teacher and intern perceptions of teaching ability at the preservice and inservice stages,” Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 66, no. 2, pp. 170–183, 2015.
 J. W. Creswell, and V. L. Plano Clark, Designing and conducting mixed methods research. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, 2007.
 L. Darling-Hammond, Professional development schools: Schools for developing a profession. New York, NY: Teachers College Press, 2005.
 L. Darling-Hammond, Powerful teacher education: Lessons from exemplary programs. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2006a.
 L. Darling-Hammond, “Constructing 21st Century teacher education,” Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 57, no. 3, pp. 300–314, 2006b.
 L. Darling-Hammond, “Strengthening clinical preparation: The holy grail of teacher education,” Peabody Journal of Education, vol. 89, no. 4, pp. 547–561, 2014.
 L. Darling-Hammond, R. Chung, and F. Frelow, “Variation in teacher preparation: How well do different pathways prepare teachers to teach?,” Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 54, no. 4, pp. 286–302, 2002.
 M. W. Flake, An investigation of how preservice teachers ability to professionally notice children’s mathematical thinking relates to their own mathematical knowledge for teaching. Kansas, University of Kansas, 2014.
 N. Flegg, K. Mohamed, and K. Trimmer, “Synthesising the literature concerning math anxiety to inform a project on pre-service teacher retention rates,” in Proc. 3rd Advancing the STEM Agenda Conference. ASQ Advancing the STEM Agenda. Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2013, pp. 1–13.
 B. E. J. Housego, “Student teachers’ feelings of preparedness to teach,” Canadian Journal of Education, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 37–56, 1990.
 A. W. Hoy, and R. B. Spero, “Changes in teacher efficacy during the early years of teaching: A comparison of four measures,” Teaching and Teacher Education, vol. 21, n. 4, pp. 343–356, 2005.
 S. Hudson, “Preservice teachers’ perceptions of their middle schooling teacher preparation,” International Journal of Learning, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 1–12, 2009.
 S. Hudson, Preservice teachers’ perceptions of their middle schooling preparation: A sample of the Australian context. Lismore, NSW: Southern Cross University, 2011.
 A. N. Kee, “Feelings of preparedness among alternatively certified teachers: What is the role of program features?,” Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 63, no. 1, pp. 23–38, 2012.
 D. Knoblauch, and A. Woolfolk Hoy, “Maybe I can teach those kids: The influence of contextual factors on student teachers’ sense of efficacy,” Teaching and Teacher Education, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 166–179, 2008.
 F. A. Korthagen, “Making teacher education relevant for practice: The pedagogy of realistic teacher education,” Orbis Scholae, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 31–50, 2011.
 K. Kretchmar, and K. Zeichner, “Teacher prep 3.0: A vision for teacher education to impact social transformation,” Journal of Education for Teaching, vol. 42, no. 4, pp. 417–433, 2016.
 V. K. LaBoskey, and A. E. Richert, “Identifying good student teaching placements: A programmatic perspective,” Teacher Education Quarterly, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 7–34, 2002.
 R. Lazarides, J. Buchholz, and C. Rubach, “Teacher enthusiasm and self-efficacy, student-perceived mastery goal orientation, and student motivation in mathematics classrooms,” Teaching and Teacher Education, vol. 69, pp. 1–10, 2018.
 W. Lim, “An evaluation of a 4 – 8 mathematics teacher preparation program at a large state institution in Texas,” Unpublished.
 J. MacDonald, J. Whatman, and L. Stevens, 2015 Annual evaluation report for the Teach First NZ programme pilot delivered in partnership with the University of Auckland. Wellington, New Zealand: Wellington Ministry of Education, 2016.
 J. Marshall, and J. Smith, “Teaching as we’re taught: The university role in the education of English teachers,” English Education, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 246–268, 1997.
 Ministry of Education, A report of the developing teaching strategies project. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Public administration of educational supervisors, 2000.
 M. Newberry, “Identified phases in the building and maintaining of positive teacher–student relationships,” Teaching and Teacher Education, vol. 26, no. 8, pp. 1695–1703, 2010.
 J. Ng’eno, B. Githua, and J. Changeiywo, “Teachers’ perceptions of their preparedness to integrate information communication and technology in secondary school mathematics instruction in Rift Valley Region, Kenya,” Journal of Education and Practice, vol. 4, no. 12, pp. 51-57, 2013.
 S. O’Neill, and J. Stephenson, “Does classroom management coursework influence pre-service teachers’ perceived preparedness or confidence?,” Teaching and Teacher Education, vol. 28, no. 8, pp. 1131–1143, 2012.
 D. Pendergast, S. Garvis, and J. Keogh, “Pre-service student-teacher self-efficacy beliefs: An insight into the making of teachers,” Australian Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 36, no. 12, pp. 45–58, 2011.
 J. Reid, “A practice turn for teacher education?,” Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 39, no. 4, pp. 293–310, 2011.
 P. Rodie, “The perceptions of beginning secondary teachers about their professional learning experiences in the Solomon Islands Context,” Waikato Journal of Education, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 1–273, 2011.
 E. Spalding, C. L. Klecka, E. Lin, J. Wang, and S. J Odell, “Learning to teach: It’s complicated but it’s not magic,” Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 62, no. 1, p.1, 2011.
 C. T. Stripling, and T. G. Roberts, “Investigating the effects of a math-enhanced agricultural teaching methods course,” Journal of Agricultural Education, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 124–138, 2013.
 B.Tarman, “Prospective teachers’ beliefs and perceptions about teaching as a profession,” Educational Consultancy and Research Center, vol. 12, no. 3, 1964–1973, 2012.
 M. Tschannen-Moran, and A. Woolfolk Hoy, “Teacher efficacy: Capturing an elusive construct,” Teaching and Teacher Education, vol. 17, no. 7, pp. 783–805, 2001.
 M. Tschannen-Moran, A. Woolfolk Hoy, and W. K. Hoy, “Teacher efficacy: Its meaning and measure,” Review of Educational Research, vol. 68, no. 2, pp. 202-248, 1998.
 J. Whatman, and J. McLean Davies, High quality practica and the integration of theory and practice in initial teacher education: A literature review prepared for the Education Council. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Council for Educational Research, 2017.
 S. M. Wilson, R. E. Floden, and J. Ferrini-Mundy, “Teacher preparation research. An insider's view from the outside,” Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 53, no. 3, pp. 190–204, 2002.
 K. Zeichner, “Rethinking the connections between campus courses and field experiences in college- and university-based teacher education,” Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 61, no. 1–2, pp. 89–99, 2010.
 L. Zientek, “Preparing high-quality teachers: Views from the classroom,” American Educational Research Journal, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 959–1001, 2007.